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Saturday, June 11, 2011

TOPIC: To regret, or not to regret - that is the question...

A friend asked me the other day if I could change anything on this journey I've made to becoming a published writer what would it be. It set me to thinking long and hard about the topic.

*I wish I'd discovered RWAustralia sooner than I did. Until I entered the RWA Emma Darcy Award I never even knew they existed.

Joining this writing organisation has enriched my professional and personal life as a writer. I've learned so much about the craft of writing, the publishing industry and how everyone fits within the jigsaw, networking, pitching, developed friendships...the list could go on.

*I regret not having pitched to an editor or agent at a conference earlier than I did. Public speaking, interview situations, anything that resembled either of these petrified me (even though I'm a teacher and can quite happily make a fool of myself and love it in front of a classroom full of children).

I put it off for nearly six years, preferring the anonymity and safety of emails and letters. I'm still reluctant to tackle this sort of situation but I can now do it because I know what to expect. I also realise the value of networking and meeting industry professionals face to face. Putting a name to a face (on both sides of the interview table) is such an important step.

*My latest wish is that I'd developed myself as a plotter and planner in my writing style rather than as a scener and panster. It's something I'm now working on and, unfortunately I'm finding it quite a challenge. I'd been told time and again by other writers (published ones) that it's an important skill to develop but I went on my merry way, happy to write as I wanted, instead of learning and changing. Better late than never, eh?

This might seem like a negative list of regrets, and I guess to some extent they are just that, but timing has a funny way of working out and I've learned sometimes there's nothing you can do but accept this. For some reason they happen when they do.

Reminds me of the reed-in-the-water analogy - you learn to bend with the current rather than break.

If you're a fellow writer, is there anything you wish you could have learned sooner in your writing career? Care to share?

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for your list Kylie. Its good to know so those of us following along behind can learn from your regrets!

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  2. There's been a few steep learning curves, Kez. LOL :-)

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  3. All of the above, Kylie although I don't know if regret is the word exactly. I think all of you has to be ready to take the leap of faith into crazy, scary, wonderful writersland and when you're ready, you do.

    Since I made the decision to write full time I'm dirt poor, pasty white, semi-permanently hunched and talk to myself waaaay to much, yet I'm the happiest I've ever been. I love going to my RWNZ chapter meetings, reading romance writer blogs and generally chewing the fat, because for the first time in my life I don't feel like a freak!

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  4. Nicki, thanks for sharing - and I get what you mean by 'regret' not being quite the right word. You're right about that we make the journey in our own time. :-)

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  5. Kylie,

    I'm pretty much the same - ESPECIALLY the not knowing about RWA for way too long. For so many years I wondered if there was anyone else like me out there, stumbling around with my stories and having no real clue. And YES on the plotting, that is my mission now too in my aim to start writing longer length stories next year (Miss three will be Miss four)

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  6. Kylie, I so get the idea of longing to plot. As a carefree panster all my writing life, it was only when I signed with my agent and he told me 'plotters are usually more productive' that I thought if I wanted to get serious about productivity, I had to shift my process. Before getting contracted I was a contest junkie and never entered contests where a synopsis was required (That sounded too much like plotting to me)Eighteen months on and I write an outline for each book before I start. I don't always stick to it, but the bones are there.
    Knowing other writers face the same challenges is oddly comforting :)
    Great post as always!

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  7. Excellent post, as always, Kylie. Ditto for not knowing about RWA sooner. I also wish I'd understood the need for a strong conflict earlier.

    Other than that I don't have any real regrets. I still think of it as an apprenticeship and I may now be licenced to write stories, but I'm a long way from master-craftsman status :-)

    And a comment on the plotting side of things? I'm a committed panster so was very relieved at the recent RWA NQ roadshow to discover Anne Gracie (who I put in the master-craftsman division!) also works in a similar fashion to me. I'd love to be able to write a clean first draft, but by pantsing and scening I know my characters better by the end of the story so I can then strengthen the beginning with that knowledge.

    Would be very interested to know how many established authors are pansters vs plotters :-)

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  8. It makes getting the word out there about RWA or similar other organisations vital, eh?

    And good point, Helene, it would be interesting to see how many pantsters vs. plotter authors we have out there.

    As for plotting, Mel & Helen, I find I can't give up the pantsting style entirely. I think I might be a bit like you, Helen, and a rough outline will pass as my synopsis and if the story changes, I'll go back and rework the synopsis to suit. It's what I just did for the second book in my series.

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